Write On

Old Typewriter“Writers write.”
This observation by Tim Challies has challenged and guided me during 2018. In the past I’ve dreamed of writing, dabbled in writing, planned on writing . . .  This year I’ve made a diligent effort to write consistently and productively.

Being a teacher has given me blocks of time during the past two summers to write. 5:00-7:00 am and evenings during the school year have become regular writing times as well. By utilizing these opportunities I completed a manuscript which I submitted to a publisher last October. The working title is The Growing Body: Church As It Was Meant To Be. It engages church leaders and members with the key New Testament text on church growth. Since then, my writing endeavors have focused on The Pathway to Pastoral Ministry, a step-by-step guide for young men considering the ministry.

Writers pray?
Last month I visited a Christian writers’ group in my community. The meeting began with a time of prayer focused on the group members’ writing projects. That experience challenged me to pray about my own writing. I began to pray that God would provide a publisher for The Pathway to Pastoral Ministry. A little presumptuously, I prayed that a publisher would contact me.

Within a few weeks my path crossed with a ministry leader whose organization publishes books. He had read my articles and he expressed interest in publishing them! I submitted the completed portion for their editorial team to consider. If they decide to publish it, I plan to submit the final manuscript by the end of February. I continue to pray that God will use this material to encourage young men toward pastoral ministry.

Bloggers blog
The blog has been somewhat revived this year. Thanks to the 106 of you who subscribe and follow! Deanhtaylor.com had over 7,900 visitors and more than 10,000 views in 118 countries in 2018. Tim Challies’ tweet encouraging individual bloggers has spurred me to stay at it and blog more frequently in the upcoming year.

Evidently a lot of people search on the topic of butterflies in the Bible. Butterflies Aren’t in the Bible has been viewed over 7,600 times this year! Search terms that lead people here include “butterflies in the Bible” and “what does the Bible say about butterflies.” A group of churches in Great Britain requested permission to publish it in their newsletter, which I gladly granted. I am thankful for the influence of this post.

“It was a dark and stormy night.”
Ideas have been forming in my head and in my journal for a work of fiction. I plan to start writing it in earnest this summer. It will probably take 2-3 years to complete. Here’s my first go at it.

Pastor Steve fastened his seat belt, backed out of the parking space and eased forward, navigating the tight corners of the convenience store parking lot. On the passenger seat was a brown bag. He wondered if any church members had witnessed his early morning purchase.

A slight tinge of conscience distracted him, but the anticipation of indulging in the bag’s contents outweighed any regret he felt. Steve pulled into the empty church parking lot and walked to the front door of the vacant building – the church where he had served for three years. As usual, the lock stuck. He jiggled the key impatiently until it finally turned.

“Friday. Sunday’s comin’.” The constant rhythm of every pastor’s life. Prepare, preach. “It’s time to get ready for Sunday.”

Steve loved to preach. He enjoyed the whole process, from studying a passage of Scripture, to organizing the material into a sermon, to delivering it with passion on Sunday morning. His Friday morning routine was one of his favorite times. Finish writing the sermon. Put the outline into a handout and PowerPoint slides. And pray.

Aware of some unhealthy effects of his brown bag habit, he also believed it helped him. “Everyone has their vices. It stimulates my creativity.” He wouldn’t say so, even to himself, but his habit also temporarily soothed a restless feeling within. If he thought about it, gave it a label, he might have called it inadequacy. At times, fear. 

Steve stood the bag on his desk while he removed his jacket and hung it on the hook on the back of his office door. The aroma of black coffee streaming from his one-cup coffeemaker into his favorite white ceramic cup, the one with Beacon Bible Camp on the side, stirred his still sleepy brain. The promise of soon-to-be-delivered caffeine prompted a slight smile. 

Everything in place, he sat in his desk chair, uncurled the top of the brown bag and reached in.

Well, we’ll see where that goes! It’s a little rough still. That’s something else I’m learning: Writers write, then revise, revise, revise.

Writing better
Two other steps I’m taking to further develop my writing in the next year are reading articles and books about writing and joining the Christian writers’ group I mentioned above. With God’s help I intend to write, write more, and write better. I hope for more readers and greater impact. I’ll report back to you at this time next year!

 

 

I clicked SEND!

This is an announcement. And it is one excuse I have for not writing blog posts for the past year or so.

Tuesday evening I wrote an email, attached several documents, and clicked SEND. That email represents a big milestone in my life. Here’s why.

Old Typewriter

Several years ago while I was pastoring, a church member encouraged me to develop one of my sermon series into a book. The idea was very appealing. My administrative assistant transcribed the audio of some of the sermons so I could edit them for publication. I heard that’s how John MacArthur did it, so surely it couldn’t be too hard.

That process didn’t work for me. When I read over my sermons, I realized the way I speak would not read well in a book. I marked up pages and pages of text, drawing circles and arrows and rewording sentences. I finally decided the best way for me to turn sermons into books was to use the research and ideas, but start from scratch and word it for reading rather than listening. And of course that takes a lot of time and effort. I started and stopped a few times, then finally gave up trying.

Since then, I have turned some sermons into articles that have been published here and elsewhere. But the idea of a book has stayed on my mind. I just didn’t have the motivation or blocks of time to make it happen.

A little over two years ago as I considered what was next for me after pastoring, I wished and prayed for a role that would allow me time for writing. God in His wisdom and goodness placed me in a teaching job. And teachers get summers off.

During the summer of 2017 I started writing the manuscript for a book. Preaching trips, vacation, and home projects filled those summer months as well, so I couldn’t devote the whole time to writing, but I got off to a good start. I worked on it here and there through the next school year. Then last summer I devoted significant time to pushing it toward completion.

Writing does not flow easily for me. There are occasions when my fingers can hardly keep up with my thoughts. But most of the time it is laborious and I agonize over each sentence. I’m a plodder by nature, so I just keep at it.

A week ago, I texted my wife, “I’m about to jump out of my chair!” I could physically feel the excitement as completion was in sight. Reading over the manuscript later, I realized I had left out an important section. So I had to go back and fill that in.

Tuesday night I completed and collected all the necessary elements:

Cover letter: Check!

Manuscript overview: Check!

Table of contents: Check!

Biographical information: Check!

Manuscript: CHECK!

Earlier in the process, I had sent a proposal to a publisher and was invited to submit the entire manuscript when complete. I entered my contact’s email address, wrote a note, attached the documents, and clicked SEND!

Now a new process begins – waiting while the publisher evaluates the manuscript and, if approved, going through the steps of preparing it for publication. It’s a new adventure and I’m loving it. And I will be thrilled if the fruit of my labor helps others.

One of these days I’ll tell you what I wrote about :).

 

 

Start ‘er Up!

This blog has been sitting idle for over a year. Writing a post feels like trying to start a car that hasn’t been driven for a while. I’m going to crank it and see if it still runs.

I have not been idle in brain or life. In my first year of teaching (2016-17) at Faith Baptist Bible College, I was in survival mode as I developed class content, learned how to function in the academic milieu, and met students and colleagues. On summer break, in addition to completing two major home projects, I preached almost weekly in our church before we called a new pastor and preached two weeks at family camps in Iowa and Nebraska. In between these responsibilities, I also started a major undertaking which I’m hoping to bring to completion soon. It involved a lot of writing, and that’s all I’ll say for now :). Teaching went much more smoothly from my perspective first semester of the 2017-18 school year. I love what I do – preparing men for pastoral ministry.

Looking ahead, I am very excited for opportunities to encourage pastors. These include a workshop at Faith’s Refresh Conference in Februarytwo workshops for the pastors’ track at the MAACS Educators Conference also in February; the Timothy Retreat at Iowa Regular Baptist Camp for young men considering ministry; speaking at the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches Annual Conference in March; and speaking at a pastors’ conference in June. What a privilege it is to connect with the men in these settings.

My mission in this stage of life is to equip men for ministry, encourage pastors, and strengthen churches. God continues to give opportunities to do these things, and I am grateful.

Hey, it runs! I might take it for a spin.